Despite reservations about Matt Hancock attending the NTAs on behalf of the I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! cast, the politician has been confirmed.
The disgraced MP, 44, drew uproar last year when it was discovered he’d signed up for the reality show, with some accusing him of ‘abandoning’ his constituents during a cost-of-living crisis.
However, Hancock immediately stated that he wanted to demonstrate his ‘human side’ by appearing.
While he made it to the conclusion, former England footballer Jill Scott finally won the championship, with Hollyoaks actor Owen Warner finishing in second and Hancock coming in third.
While comments to Hancock’s casting were varied, he has already been confirmed to attend tonight’s National Television Awards, where the programme is vying for The Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award, which it has won the last four years.
A sneak glimpse of the seating map showed Hancock seated next to Jill in the second row during a trip to the O2 Arena on Tuesday’s edition of This Morning.
His appearance at the awards, however, comes amid fears earlier this week that a triumph for the show might be swamped by a chorus of boos for the MP.
The former Health Secretary resigned in 2021 after being spotted kissing his then-aide and now lover, Gina Coladangelo, 46, in violation of his own strict social separation guidelines.
While I’m A Celebrity is expected to win the prize, some ITV executives are concerned about Hancock appearing on stage with his fellow campmates.
‘This is a very real headache for ITV because the jungle has won this particular accolade for the past four years and last year’s series was one of the most popular in the show’s history,’ a source has said.
‘Bosses see this win as proof of I’m A Celebrity’s ongoing popularity but also a reflection of the fact that it returned to form in 2022 after Covid forced it to be filmed in the UK rather than Australia for two years.
‘They don’t want that glorious moment on stage to be affected by anything negative, but they also know the strength of feeling against Matt,’ the source added when speaking to The Sun.
They continued: ‘They realise there’s not a great deal they can do to control the crowd of up to 20,000 people.
‘Anyone who saw I’m A Celebrity last year and the reaction he sparked among campmates will see that he still has the power to divide more than two years after he was forced to quit Cabinet.’
When Matt first came in the jungle last year, there was not simply indignation from spectators, with celebrities such as Boy George expressing their opinions.
Boy George broke down in tears shortly after seeing Hancock, saying his mother had been in the hospital throughout the epidemic and that if she had died, he would have left the camp upon seeing Hancock enter.
At tonight’s event, I’m A Celebrity will compete against Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, The Masked Singer, and Gogglebox.
The National Television Awards 2023 airs tonight from 8pm on ITV1 and ITVX.